Full-time 2019 entry, A*AA, IB 38
Designed to bring out the beauty and universality of physics, our course provides broad and in-depth teaching that’s informed by our research. Core modules introduce and develop the fundamental concepts, such as those of quantum theory and electromagnetism, and cover the mathematics used in physics.
Optional modules provide opportunities to see how the basic concepts can explain the phenomena we observe.
For the final year project, you’ll work as a member of one of the research groups on a year-long project to explore aspects of the research area that are not yet fully understood. We encourage you to apply for summer placements and projects, which enable you to complete a small research project supervised by a member of academic staff.
The four-year course is ideal if you intend to make direct use of your knowledge of physics after you graduate. The fourth year includes modules on all the main areas of physics. It will encourage you to reflect more on some of the unsolved problems in physics than is possible in the first three years. Download our course booklet
The structure of the course reflects the structure of the subject. You will take core lecture modules (concentrated mainly in the first two years), which introduce and develop the fundamental concepts, such as those of quantum theory and electromagnetism, and cover the mathematics used in physics.
You will also choose modules from lists of options. These are largely concerned with seeing how the basic concepts can explain the phenomena we observe. Examples include the light emitted and absorbed by stellar matter, and the response of the liquids, solids and gases, which we meet on a daily basis, to the mechanical, electrical and thermal forces acting on them.
In the first year, you take essential (core) modules and choose at least one more module from a list of options. In the second and third years there is considerable freedom to choose modules. By then you will have a good idea of your main interests and be well placed to decide which areas to study in greater depth. In effect you design your own degree.
The fourth year includes modules on all the main areas of physics. It will encourage you to reflect more on some of the unsolved problems in physics than is possible in the first three years.
Lecture size will naturally vary from module to module. The first year core modules may have up to 350 students in a session, whilst the more specialist modules in the later years will have fewer than 100. The core modules in the first year are supported by weekly classes, at which you and your fellow students meet in small groups with a member of the research staff or a postgraduate student. Tutorials with your personal tutor is normally with a group of 5 students.
You should expect to attend around 12 lectures a week and spend 7 hours on supervised practical (mainly laboratory and computing) work. For each 1 hour lecture, you should expect to put in a further 1-2 hours of private study.
In any year, about 30% of the overall mark is assigned to coursework.
The weighting for each year's contribution to your final mark is 10:20:30:40 for the MPhys and MMathPhys courses.
We support student mobility through study abroad programmes. BSc students have the opportunity to apply for an intercalated year abroad at one of our partner universities.
The Study Abroad Team based in the Office for Global Engagement offers support for these activities. The Department's Study Abroad Co-ordinator can provide more specific information and assistance.
Summer placements and projects are encouraged. All students can apply for research vacation projects - small research projects supervised by a member of academic staff
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A level: A*AA to include A in Mathematics (or Further Mathematics) and Physics
IB: 38 to include 6 in Higher Level Mathematics and Physics
Contextual data and differential offers: Warwick may make differential offers to students in a number of circumstances. These include students participating in the Realising Opportunities programme, or who meet two of the contextual data criteria. Differential offers will be one or two grades below Warwick’s standard offer (to a minimum of BBB).
- Access Courses: Access to HE Diploma (QAA-recognised) including appropriate subjects with distinction grades in level 3 units, and Mathematics and Physics A levels or equivalent.
- Warwick International Foundation Programme (IFP) All students who successfully complete the Warwick IFP and apply to Warwick through UCAS will receive a guaranteed conditional offer for a related undergraduate programme (selected courses only). For full details of standard offers and conditions visit the IFP page.
- We welcome applications from students with other internationally recognised qualifications. For more information please visit the international entry requirements page.
Taking a gap year Applications for deferred entry welcomed.
Interviews We do not typically interview applicants. Offers are made based on your UCAS form which includes predicted and actual grades, your personal statement and school reference.
Open Days All students who have been offered a place are invited to visit. Find out more about our main University Open Days and other opportunities to visit us. We want to make our admissions process as straightforward as possible, so find out more about how to make an application, alongside the latest entry requirements.
Mathematics for Physicists
All scientists use mathematics to state the basic laws and to analyse quantitatively and rigorously their consequences. The module introduces you to the concepts and techniques, which will be assumed by future modules. These include: complex numbers, functions of a continuous real variable, integration, functions of more than one variable and multiple integration. You will revise relevant parts of the A-level syllabus, to cover the mathematical knowledge to undertake first year physics modules, and to prepare you for mathematics and physics modules in subsequent years.
Classical Mechanics and Relativity
You will study Newtonian mechanics emphasizing the conservation laws inherent in the theory. These have a wider domain of applicability than classical mechanics (for example they also apply in quantum mechanics). You will also look at the classical mechanics of oscillations and of rotating bodies. It then explains why the failure to find the ether was such an important experimental result and how Einstein constructed his theory of special relativity. You will cover some of the consequences of the theory for classical mechanics and some of the predictions it makes, including: the relation between mass and energy, length-contraction, time-dilation and the twin paradox.
You will look at dimensional analysis, matter and waves. Often the qualitative features of systems can be understood (at least partially) by thinking about which quantities in a problem are allowed to depend on each other on dimensional grounds. Even though the results are universal, the simplest way to introduce this topic to you is via the ideal gas, whose properties are discussed and derived in some detail. You will also cover waves. Waves are time-dependent variations about some time-independent (often equilibrium) state. You will revise the relation between the wavelength, frequency and velocity and the definition of the amplitude and phase of a wave.
Electricity and Magnetism
You will largely be concerned with the great developments in electricity and magnetism, which took place during the nineteenth century. The origins and properties of electric and magnetic fields in free space, and in materials, are tested in some detail and all the basic levels up to, but not including, Maxwell's equations are considered. In addition the module deals with both dc and ac circuit theory including the use of complex impedance. You will be introduced to the properties of electrostatic and magnetic fields, and their interaction with dielectrics, conductors and magnetic materials.
Physics Programming Workshop
You will be introduced to the Python programming language in this module. It is quick to learn and encourages good programming style. Python is an interpreted language, which makes it flexible and easy to share. It allows easy interfacing with modules, which have been compiled from C or Fortran sources. It is widely used throughout physics and there are many downloadable free-to-user codes available. You will also look at the visualisation of data. You will be introduced to scientific programming with the help of the Python programming language, a language widely used by physicists.
This module begins by showing you how classical physics is unable to explain some of the properties of light, electrons and atoms. (Theories in physics, which make no reference to quantum theory, are usually called classical theories.) You will then deal with some of the key contributions to the development of quantum physics including those of: Planck, who first suggested that the energy in a light wave comes in discrete units or 'quanta'; Einstein, whose theory of the photoelectric effect implied a 'duality' between particles and waves; Bohr, who suggested a theory of the atom that assumed that not only energy, but also angular momentum, was quantised; and Schrödinger who wrote down the first wave-equations to describe matter.
Key Skills for Physics
This is a composite module made of 2 components; physics problems (6 CATS) and five worksheets (6 CATS). Problem solving forms a vital part of your learning process and therefore, each lecturer issues a set of problems on their module which you are expected to make serious attempts to solve. A subset of these problems is marked for credit. These problems are discussed in your weekly Examples Classes. You will cover background mathematical material assumed by other modules, to give you experience of learning by self-study and to develop the habit of keeping up with the problem sheets handed out in physics modules.
Electromagnetic Theory and Optics
You will develop the ideas of first year electricity and magnetism into Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism. Maxwell's equations pulled the various laws of electricity and magnetism (Faraday's law, Ampere's law, Lenz's law, Gauss's law) into one unified and elegant theory. The module shows you that Maxwell's equations in free space have time-dependent solutions, which turn out to be the familiar electromagnetic waves (light, radio waves, X-rays, etc.), and studies their behaviour at material boundaries (Fresnel Equations). You will also cover the basics of optical instruments and light sources.
Mathematical Methods for Physicists
You will review the techniques of ordinary and partial differentiation and ordinary and multiple integration. You will develop you understanding of vector calculus and discuss the partial differential equations of physics. (Term 1) The theory of Fourier transforms and the Dirac delta function are also covered. Fourier transforms are used to represent functions on the whole real line using linear combinations of sines and cosines. Fourier transforms are a powerful tool in physics and applied mathematics. The examples used to illustrate the module are drawn mainly from interference and diffraction phenomena in optics. (Term 2)
Quantum Mechanics and its Applications
In the first part of this module you will use ideas, introduced in the first year module, to explore atomic structure. You will discuss the time-independent and the time-dependent Schrödinger equations for spherically symmetric and harmonic potentials, angular momentum and hydrogenic atoms. The second half of the module looks at many-particle systems and aspects of the Standard Model of particle physics. Introducing you to the quantum mechanics of free fermions and discussing how it accounts for the conductivity and heat capacity of metals and the state of electrons in white dwarf stars.
Thermal Physics II
Any macroscopic object we meet contains a large number of particles, each of which moves according to the laws of mechanics (which can be classical or quantum). Yet, we can often ignore the details of this microscopic motion and use a few average quantities such as temperature and pressure to describe and predict the behaviour of the object. Why we can do this, when we can do this and how to do it are the subject of this module. The most important idea in the field is due to Boltzmann, who identified the connection between entropy and disorder. The module shows you how the structure of equilibrium thermodynamics follows from Boltzmann's definition of the entropy and shows you how, in principle, any observable equilibrium quantity can be computed.
Quantum Physics of Atoms
The basic principles of quantum mechanics are applied to a range of problems in atomic physics. The intrinsic property of spin is introduced and its relation to the indistinguishability of identical particles in quantum mechanics discussed. Perturbation theory and variational methods are described and applied to several problems. The hydrogen and helium atoms are analysed and the ideas that come out from this work are used to obtain a good qualitative understanding of the periodic table. In this module, you will develop the ideas of quantum theory and apply these to atomic physics.
You will revise the magnetic vector potential, A, which is defined so that the magnetic field B=curl A. We will see that this is the natural quantity to consider when exploring how electric and magnetic fields transform under Lorentz transformations (special relativity). The radiation (EM-waves) emitted by accelerating charges will be described using retarded potentials and have the wave-like nature of light built in. The scattering of light by free electrons (Thompson scattering) and by bound electrons (Rayleigh scattering) will also be described. Understanding the bound electron problem led Rayleigh to his celebrated explanation of why the sky is blue and why sunlight appears redder at sunrise and sunset.
Physics Group Project
The researching, evaluation and presentation of scientific information are important skills that you used in the 2nd year Physics Skills module. This project is designed to further develop these skills. Your class will be divided into groups, each of about six members. Each group will then be assigned a topic to be researched and reported on, and they will also each be allocated a member of Academic Staff who will act as a both a mentor and an assessor. The project will provide you with the chance of studying in-depth some particular field of physics at the research level.
You will further develop the experimental skills you have acquired over the first two years. The experiments are less structured than in earlier years, more open ended and performed in groups. This is to encourage you to take responsibility for the planning and direction of experiments and prepare you for independent research within a team.
Mathematical Methods for Physicists III
One third of this module is on the calculus of variations and two thirds on complex variables. The calculus of variations is concerned with the minimisation of integrals over sets of differentiable functions. Such integrals crop up in many contexts. For example, the ground state wave function of a quantum system minimises the expectation value of the energy. The classical equations of motion for both particles and fields can often be obtained by minimising what is called the action functional. This module aims to help you develop your mathematical skills and cover material needed in 4th year physics modules.
The project will provide you with experience of working on an extended project in a research environment in collaboration with a supervisor and partner. You will work, normally in pairs, on an extended project which may be experimental, computational or theoretical (or indeed a combination of these). Through discussions with your supervisor you will establish a plan of work which you will frequently review as you progress. In general, the project will not be closely prescribed and will contain an investigative element.
Selection of optional modules that current students are studying
- Particle Physics
- Computational Physics
- Hamiltonian Mechanics
- Physics of Electrical Power Generation
- Physics of Fluids
- Statistical Physics
- Plasma Electrodynamics
- Nuclear Physics
- Jaguar Land Rover
- Rolls Royce
- Fluid Gravity Engineering Ltd
- Forensic Data Analyst
- IT Consultant
- Hedging Analyst
- Operations Manager
- Research Engineer
- Scientific Programmer
- Software Developer
- Structural Engineer
"Physics leads to a wide range of job opportunities."
"I wasn’t sure what career I wanted so chose Physics - a subject that would lead to a wide range of job opportunities. I became fully involved in the department and ran the open days, conducting tours and speaking to prospective students which taught me a number of skills I now use in my career. I also completed some original research in my fourth year which was a great experience.
After my degree, I knew I wanted to use the Maths element in my career and as I discovered from running the open days, I enjoyed speaking to other people and presenting…so became an actuary."
Eloise Richer - Actuary
Studied 'Physics (MPhys)' - Graduated 2016
"I have gained a lot more than just a degree."
"I was very impressed with the Physics department when I visited during an open day, and wasn’t disappointed when I joined Warwick. The lecturers on my course were genuinely passionate about what they were teaching which resulted in lectures that were fun and enjoyable.
There are many societies and volunteering opportunities at Warwick which I believe has made me a well-rounded graduate compared with graduates from other universities. I worked with Warwick Volunteers and took this experience through to my career as I realised I was passionate about helping others; I now work as a Mental Health Recovery Worker."
Naomi Hyde - Mental Health Recovery Worker
Studied 'Physics (BSc) - Graduated 2017
A level:A*AA to include A in Mathematics (or Further
Mathematics) and Physics
IB:38 to include 6 in Higher Level Mathematics and Physics
Master of Physics (MPhys)
4 years Full Time
24 September 2019
Location of study
University of Warwick, Coventry
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This information is applicable for 2019 entry.
Given the interval between the publication of courses and enrolment, some of the information may change. It is important to check our website before you apply. Please read our terms and conditions to find out more.